El Areeb Swims Home in Jerome Stakes
By: Ciara Bowen
M M G Stables’ El Areeb turned in his most dominating performance to date on Monday, January 2. The three-year-old colt stretched out to two turns for the first time and was victorious in the $150,000 Gr. 3 Jerome Stakes, run on the muddy but sealed dirt course at Aqueduct.
Under regular rider Trevor McCarthy, El Areeb broke out a step at the start and then ran near the front of the field of seven, tracking even-money favorite Takaful. The leader took them through a quarter mile in :23.28 and a half in :48.11 before really becoming challenged by El Areeb. The latter settled into his challenge when asked by McCarthy as they hit the midway point coming around the final turn, exploding and rapidly putting his advantage over Takaful. He took the field through six furlongs in 1:14.39 and a mile in 1:41.63, at which point he led by ten lengths. Ultimately, El Areeb stopped the clock at 1:46.17 for the mile and 70 yards, hitting the wire 11 ¼ lengths ahead of his competitors.
“We’ve been working him two-turns in the morning and it he turns off so well,” said McCarthy. “We’ve worked him on dead tracks and fast tracks… Anything you ask him to do, he’ll do for you. It’s super exciting for the whole barn.”
The Jerome was the first Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race for 2017. It awarded ten points to the winner, four points to second place finisher Bonus Points, two points to third place True Timbers, and one point to Win With Pride in fourth place.
El Areeb, who was bred by Dixiana Farms, is by Exchange Rate and is out of the A.P. Indy mare Feathered Diamond. He is the first stakes winner for his dam, though each of her four foals of racing age has won. From five starts, El Areeb has three wins and a second for earnings of $184,200. The Jerome was the graded stakes debut for the colt, who is trained by Cathal Lynch.
“[El Areeb has been in training] since the March sale and he’s just been getting better and better,” said Lynch. “I think today he’s proved he’s a legit contender. He’s probably the best horse I’ve trained in 20 years.”